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A braid bible!

18 Jan
Beyonce in braids

Beyonce in braids

Thought I would write a long post about everything I know and everything I have learnt about braids!  I don’t braid my own hair very often but I have been braiding my daughter’s hair for two months at a time consistently for almost three years now.  Her hair has thrived and her hairline is intact.  I will share my experiences from having to take care of her hair and making sure that she benefits from braids and that they do not ruin her hair.  I hope you find this post useful.

Before getting braids

  • Try and get your hair in good condition before braiding it.  Do not use braids as a way to cover up and ignore your hair.  Rather use them as a protective style – meaning you will keep taking care of your hair, even if it is plaited.  Getting braids will not resolve any hair issues you may have.  These are bound to continue even if your hair is hidden away.
  • Choose a braid fibre that is light so your hair is not weighed down.  I think nowadays almost all fibre falls into this category.
  • If you can braid your own hair, rather do that.  No one can be more gentle with your hair than you.  If you can’t (like me), choose a braider that comes recommended.  You want someone who is neat as well as someone who understands that braids should not be too tight.
  • Wash, deep condition and moisturise your hair before it is braided.  If you need to, blow dry it lightly.  This helps in that the braider doesn’t have to deal with any detangling while they are doing your hair.  They are likely to just rip through any tangles as they work!

Getting braids

  • Super thin / micro braids look stunning but they can wreak havoc on your hair.  The problem is that because they are so thin, if they get caught on anything they will rip out, taking your hair with them.  The thinner parts in your hair also mean exponentially more knots when you take the braids out which really difficult to detangle.  Rather opt for medium sized to large braids.  More hair per braid means the hair holds up better to any tension.
  • Many braiders will choose to take less hair around the hairline because the hair is shorter.  This enables the hairline to look neater and also enables the braider to catch every little hair!  This is not necessary and rather ask your braider not to do that.  Smaller parts on the hairline often result in the braids falling and taking your hair with them.  This is one of the causes of thinning hairline.  There is no need to braid every single hair.  You can always find a gel to neaten your hairline if you need to.
  • Once your braids are done, do not style them or tie them tightly back for a few days.  This allows your hair to grow out a bit and for the braids to loosen.  If you need to get the braids off your face, rather use a hair band or tie them back very loosely.  You will know when you can begin styling and tying them back because they will move freely and you will not feel any tightness or tension.

Braid care

  • Treat your hair (braids) and scalp as two different things that each need to be taken care of.  Take care of your hair as well as the scalp.
  • Wash your braids weekly.  I often get asked if this won’t make them look untidy and cause them to unravel.  Trust me it won’t.  Take a look at these pics where I have had the braids for eight weeks with weekly washing.  Though my hair had grown the braids still look neat.  When washing, concentrate on the scalp, massage it gently.  Frequent washing helps to minimise product build up especially at the base of the braid.  Product build up, dirt, dust and shed hair make up the knots we see when we take the braids out.  You cannot really control the hair you shed but you can keep the braids clean!
  • Dilute conditioner in water and spray onto the braids.  Wear a shower cap for an hour or so before rinsing out the conditioner.  Make sure to thoroughly rinse the braids to prevent any product buildup.  Diluting the conditioner in water is so that it is easy to rinse out.
  • Use a braid spray to moisturise the length of your hair every day.  This is important.  Hair still needs to be moisturised while it is in braids.  If you don’t moisturise your hair, it will be super dry when you eventually take the braids out.  This will cause it to be weak and to break as you take the braids out.  You can buy a braid spray (I use African Pride braid spray) or you can make it yourself by mixing a combination of water, glycerine, any natural oils (like jojoba, coconut, castor, olive, grapeseed etc).  You can even add aloe vera juice, a bit of conditioner as well as essential oils (eg tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary etc) it all depends on your preference.  When moisturising, concentrate on the parts of the braid with your hair.  The braid fibre does not need any moisture.
  • Decant your braid spray into a spray bottle.  I find a spray bottle enables me to moisturise much faster.  I am also able to get more coverage.  Moisturise your hair generously, until the braids feel damp.
  • Apply a bit of natural oil to your scalp every week after the braids have dried (when washed).  This ensures that you apply it to a clean scalp.  You can choose any natural oil or even combine two (or more) if you want to.  You can also add a few drops of essential oils especially if your scalp itches or you get dandruff.  You can apply the oil more than once a week if you feel you need to.
  • Wear your braids for around 8 weeks max.  The longer you keep your braids, the worse the knots get at the base of your braid.
  • Cover your hair with a scarf at night while you sleep.  It keep the braids neater, for longer.
  • When you remove the braids, leave a couple of weeks between taking them out and getting new braids or relaxing your hair.  In this time, make sure to give your hair some tlc to prepare it for the next round of braiding or for a relaxer.

Removing the braids

  • Remove the braids yourself.  Do not go to a salon for this.
  • Once you are ready to remove the braids, give them a final wash to get rid of dirt, dust and product that you can.
  • Smother the hair in a detangler.  I use Organic Root Stimulator Softening Lotion.  Be generous.  This will enable the detangling to be easier and will also result in less hair breakage.  Make sure there is detangler on each braid all the way up to where your hair ends.
  • Begin undoing the braids from the back of your head.  Do this so that you can undo them over several days if you have to, you will be able to tie the braids back and hide the fact that you have begun undoing them.
  • Undo one braid, apply a bit more detangler at the base and gently comb out the shed hair.  Make sure the hair is completely detangled before moving on to the next braid.  This will ensure that you tackle knots and shed hair as you go.  You will not be left with a head full of knots (which happens at salons!) After undoing and detangling a small section, twist up all the hair to prevent is tangling while you work.
  • Once you are done undoing your whole head you should be left with a head full of twists.
  • Undo the twists, do a final detangle and then wash, deep condition and moisturise.
  • Make sure to detangle your hair thoroughly.  You should not wash your hair before all the knots and tangled are out otherwise the tangles become worse.
  • See this post that shows pictures of the detangling process and what I am describing above.

Follow this and you should not have any problems with braids 🙂

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56 Responses to “A braid bible!”

  1. Good Hair Diaries™© (@GoodHairDiaries) 18 January, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    This was so needed! Thanks, Tendayi!

    • Tendayi 18 January, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

      You’re welcome Kavuli!

  2. Anna 18 January, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Thanks for this! Its super useful. I plan to get some braids soon. Where do you get your braids done? Will this regime work for natural hair? especially when it comes to washing weekly

    • Tendayi 18 January, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

      You’re welcome Anna
      I get my braids done by the same woman who does my daughter’s hair. She lives outside SA and comes round during school holidays to braid kids.

      This regime will work for natural hair too (my daughters hair is natural).

  3. Busi Mgoboli 18 January, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Wow, very detailed and thoruogh post. Thanks for the advice. My only issue is the removing the braids yourself *sigh* This is not a fun process, but you are right at the salon they wont be as gentle and careful as you will if you do it yourself. I will revert back to this post after I do braids again. Right now I am still giving my natural hair some TLC. Been washing and conditioning at home…letting the hair air dry with rollers like you suggested. The result is that my hair has so much more volume, I just love it and definately less breakage. See my blog for photos.
    I’m having a texlaxer done this weekend, instead of the very harsh blow dry I usually have, I’ll opt for rollers under the dryer..that should be gentler on my hair.. right?
    Thanks Tendayi. Have a great weekend!

    • Tendayi 18 January, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

      Your hair definately has volume. Love it! Keep up with the tlc. Hair always responds.

      Rollers under the drier will be much better than the blow drier because they make it very hot at salons. All the best to you 🙂

  4. Abigail 18 January, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Great post Tendayi. I had my hair braided a week ago and plan to religiously follow the advice in this article to the letter!! I’m already dreading the unplaiting process though. But I know its all worth it. Thanx for the info again.

    • Tendayi 18 January, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

      You’re welcome Abigail. Just undo slowly. Just an hour or two a day! That way it wont tire you out!

  5. Xoe 18 January, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    HI Tendayi

    Thank you for the informative post. I notice that you like doing the three plait and not the twists. is there any special reason for this

    • Tendayi 18 January, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      Thanks Xoe

      Its only because I have been using the same woman to do the braids and she doesnt know how to twist properly. Since I am planning to braid twice more this year I will find some other braid style.

  6. Lady Ifè Love 18 January, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    This is sooo helpful. Thank you for this Tendayi.

    • Tendayi 18 January, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

      You’re welcome 🙂

  7. Lady Ifè Love 18 January, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    Reblogged this on ladyifelove and commented:
    A beautifully written and informative braiding fact file from one of m favourite hair bloggers. When I decide to put my hair back in braids I’ll be following these steps. And I hope you all find it helpful too.

  8. Eloise 18 January, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    Love the post and its so timeous as I plan on braiding real soon! I’ll be referring back to this post A LOT!!! Thanx, Tendayi.

    • Tendayi 18 January, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

      You’re welcome Eloise

  9. jgann22 19 January, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    What a lovely post. I am taking my daughter’s singles out now! And I have been having so many problems. She never wants to sit still long enough for me to just finish ! So, we are on day 2!

    • Tendayi 21 January, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

      It takes me a few days to undo my daughter as well. I sometimes use the tv to get her to sit still!!

      • jgann22 21 January, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

        Yeaa…. we use the tv… the game… food… snacks… juice…. etc:)

  10. Flossy 20 January, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    Thanks Tendayi lm already having braids will certainly use your analysis. Welldone we look forward to many happy hair days in 2013.

  11. Rue007 21 January, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    Where do u find aloe vera juice?

    • Tendayi 22 January, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      In SA aloe vera juice is available in Dischem as well as health shops. You can also get it in supermarkets too – especially the ‘Natures Choice’ brand.

  12. Grace 22 January, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    It’s amazing the things we take for granted. i’m always in braids and was sure there was nothing else to braids except they had to look to really nice. i’ve recently switched braiders coz i realised the old braider’s techniques were making my hair break and shed a whole lot more. my own detangling methods when undoing didn’t help either and also to top it all off, i was using a completely rubbish spray. thanks to this post, i think i’ll now be able to retain some significant length each time i get braided.

    • Tendayi 22 January, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      good luck Grace! There is definately more to braids than appearance!

  13. lungiswa 22 January, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Hi Tendayi,

    I am taking off my braids today after having them for 8 weeks and following all your suggestions (washing and DC weekly, spraying with a moisturizing spray daily), and I must say, I can feel the difference in my hair from the times I braided before. It’s much softer and so healthier!

    Thank you so much!

    • Tendayi 23 January, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

      You’re welcome 🙂 Do it every time you braid. Your hair will thank you!!

  14. Patience 25 January, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Hi Tendayi

    Thanks a lot for the braids bilble. I am getting a weave(bonding) in a week’s time. How should I take care of my hair ,is it the same as the braids?

    • Tendayi 27 January, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

      I do not have much experience with weaves (bonding) Patience. I dont know how the bonds would react to the frequent washing. What I do know is that regardless of the hairstyle, hair needs to be washed and moisturised regularly.

      If anyone knows please help!!

      • Tendayi 27 January, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

        Thank you. That’s Kavuli’s blog. I wasn’t sure whether it works fir bonding.

  15. eCloset263 01 February, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Hello What do you think of Brazilian Keratin treatments on African Hair?

    • Tendayi 04 February, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      I have been wary of them because of the fact that many of them give off formaldehyde as a by product of the process. I know that some manufacturers claim to have safer ones that do not emit this but I haven’d done enough research on them though to say much.

  16. lainah 27 February, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    hi Tendayi
    I am in the process of removing my braids after carrying them for 9 weeks, and your post on removing braids has been so helpful, unfortunately i couldn’t find the Softening lotion you recommended, but i did find the moisturizing lotion which really helped, now removing my braids is no longer so painful. Thank you

    • Tendayi 27 February, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      You’re welcome Lainah. You can use any other product that is a hair softener or a detangler. I have used JO’M hair softener before and it worked great.

  17. jen 19 March, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Hi Tendayi.Thanks for sharing your experience and valuable information.I live in Pretoria and I just wanted to know who does your braids? I’m planning to have my hair braided for winter and would prefer that a professional do it for me….not looking forward to damaged edges(if you know what I mean) Your reference would be much appreciated…Thank you!

    • Tendayi 20 March, 2013 at 11:42 am #

      Hi Jen

      I’ll email the details to you.

  18. Esi 16 June, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    hi tendayi! is olive oil oil sheen spray good for braids?

    • Tendayi 25 June, 2013 at 9:37 am #

      In my opinion it is used to give your hair a sheen / a shine. It doesnt moisturise the hair itself. I would suggest a proper braid spray. I use African Pride braid spray but there are many to choose from. A braid spray is water based and will moisturise the hair underneath the braids.

  19. Winnie 19 June, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Thank you Tendayi really useful information

  20. lungiswaz 30 June, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Hi Tendayi,

    I want to keep braids on for more than 2 months (I’ll be out of SA and I won’t have anyone to do my hair) and I want to maximise my time in braids.

    Are there any tips that you can give that will prevent the knots at the base of the braid?

    • Tendayi 24 July, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

      Those knots are actually made up of shed hair as well as accumulated dust and dirt. You cannot stop the shedding proces, this is inevitable. You can though keep the braids clean and minimize the dirt that makes part of the knot. This makes the knots smaler than they would be if your hair is dirty. My advice is – wash your hair regularly.

  21. Valerie 08 July, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    Hie Tendai, I am at the end of my tether with my hair, its natural and I wear weaves a lot, I try to take care of it while its under the weave with washing etc, ive tried wearing a wig so I could treat my hair everyday but im seeing very little improvement my hairline is my main problem area, in your opinion are weaves worse than braids?

    • Tendayi 17 July, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      I think when both are not done correctly then they are equally damaging. When you wear weaves is your hairline being pulled excessively each time? If this is happening then no matter what you do the hairline will not improve because it keeps being pulled and damaged. You may want to ease up on the weaves or opt for weave where your hailine is left alone eg with a fringe. The hairline takes time to recover too. You are unlikely to see much improvement in say a week.

      Also give castor oil a try for your hairline. Its great for areas of the head where the hair has thinned. Massage it into the scalp at least once a week. I used it when I had hairline damage and my hairline improved. Many women swera by it (just google and see!!)

      • Valerie 17 July, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

        Thanks Tendayi I have been using castor oil for a while, I think about 3 months and also my latest weave was done with a fringe and I left my hairline out. Maybe patience is key.

      • Tendayi 18 July, 2013 at 11:59 am #

        yes, patience is key!

  22. Gugu 01 August, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Hi Tendayi

    What do u use to deep condition your hair while in braids?

    • Tendayi 02 August, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

      Usually I dilute Organic Root Stimulator Replenishing Conditioner with water and use that. The reason I dilute it is to make it runny and easy to rinse off.

      • Gugu 05 August, 2013 at 8:10 am #

        Thank you. I braided my hair over the weekend! Will have my first wash on this coming Sat!

      • Tendayi 05 August, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

        Follow this and you will not have problems with braids!!

  23. ingrid 06 October, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Hi Tendayi,thanks for a wonderfull blog. Any tips on taking care of weave on human hair? Thsnks!!!

    • Tendayi 09 October, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      Hi Ingrid

      I don’t mention weave care because I havent had a weave in years. The last time I had one I didnt know how to take care of my hair properly.

  24. renay 13 October, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    I have a problem with my hair line I don’t want to cut my hair because I’ve been cutting it for years due to hair line what do u suggest I use for my hair?

  25. joekigs@gmail.com 18 January, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    Thanks Tendayi for the educative blogs. I really didn’t know that braided hair could be deep conditioned! your hair looks healthy. Growing my hair in a healthy way is part of my resolutions for 2014. Thank God i came along this great blog , OMG you have really inspired me. Thank you for taking your time giving us these great and important tips.

    i relaxed my hair last November with ORS relaxer kit, and i have been using ORS mayonnaise once a month but i didn’t know what to use in between the other weeks, after reading your blogs , i have got the solution, that means i will have to do deep conditioning x1 or x2 a week and use mayonnaise x2 a month. my hair tips were damaging , my hair was so thin and had no body, some one advised me to use ORS relaxer kit, Treatment ORS mayonnaise and apply Carrot oil or Oil repair on my scalp daily. after two months i have seen a difference. but my worry was now braiding thinking that i might loose it while in braids.

    after reading how you did yours under braids, next weekend i will braid it and follow what you did.

    thanks once again and all the other ladies sharing their experiences on the blog.

    • Tendayi 23 January, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

      you’re welcome 🙂 Just remember with braids to keep your hair moisturised. Thats important for your hair health!

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  1. After Taking Out Braids, How Do You Get the Dirt Out Without Breaking Your Hair Off? | Popular Question & Answer - 13 January, 2014

    […] Helpful Resources A braid bible! | africanhairblog […]

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